Last Minute Travel Club & Last Minute Travel

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18 Comments

Last week, I wrote a piece about Last Minute Travel Club (LMTC) that appeared to offer very nice discounts on chain hotels. The only drawback was that it requires you to join their club that normally sells for $49.99, but you can get it for free most of the time. They have another promotion for a free membership going on again.

lmtc-teaser

Their pricing really intrigues  me as it is so low at times compared to branded websites that it borderline makes no sense.

Here are examples from Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott & Starwood

Hilton, Hyatt and Starwood are for one night arriving on November 16. The Marriott property is for arriving on 20th for one night.

Hilton New Orleans Riverside $72.64 VS $224

lmtc-hilton-new-orleans

lmtc-hilton-new-orleans-hilton

Hyatt Regency New Orleans $72.96 VS $146.30

lmtc-hyatt-regency

lmtc-hyatt-regency-hyatt

W New Orleans $164.08 VS $219

lmtc-w

lmtc-w-spg

Ritz-Carlton New Orleans $128.79 VS $249

lmtc-ritz

lmtc-ritz-marriott

LMTC also has a “conventional” non-members website LastMinuteTravel.com. They do have some of these deals there as well, but they cannot display the name of the hotel and the price is bit higher. The hotels that they name are about the same price that you can find on other websites.

last-minute-travel

For the hotels that they cannot show the name, they give the above explanation.

They must have access to opaque prices for these hotels, but they are not allowed to display the name of the hotel.  It seems that they can get around this limitation by advertising their own club that requires a membership fee, but is essentially free to join. Once you have joined the club, they can display the lower prices and names of the hotels.

If you look at the prices for the hotels above and compare what they are going for on Priceline (betterbidding and biddingfortravel), LMTC is very close to the Priceline pricing. But why would you go the Priceline route if you can get the same price and confirmation about the hotel instantaneously?

Why hotels offer “opaque” pricing?

Hotels want to maximize the revenue they get in. It is difficult to offer much differentiated pricing on the branded website i.e. Hilton.com. If you have a higher price first and then start lowering it a lot, people who booked and maybe prepaid may get dissatisfied.

Also, if you would see Ritz-Carlton on Marriott.com for $129 it might “cheapen” the brand. People would expect to get it at the same price in the future.

Hotels can dump excess inventory and at the same time not lower their headline pricing by going the Priceline/Hotwire route.

Conclusion

The Last Minute Travel Club appears to work best in the markets that have excess inventory at times like New Orleans. I have always had very good luck with Priceline for booking hotels in the city even when the prices are “high”. Now, I can also check the prices on LMTC and be sure about the hotel that I will get as you can get instant confirmation.

Note that LMTC has some hotels that are on request i.e. the opaque inventory has been exhausted/not available, but they can send a request to the hotel.

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  • ian

    Would the Best Guarantee rules come into play here? Hence If you paid your money directly to the hotel would the hotel match the lmtclub rate and knock a further 10% off.

    • http://loyaltylobby.com/ John O.

      Because this is a “club” with a membership fee, the hotel chains won’t do a price match.

      • Mariusz

        Will I get the hhonors gold benefits? Breakfast and wifi?

        • http://loyaltylobby.com/ John O.

          You will likely receive the Gold benefits. I have not been denied HH Gold benefits on a third party stay. Try to get your HH Gold number to the reservation after you have booked it i.e. by calling the property.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=586087619 Jose Marie Gochangco

    john, are LMTC’s Hotels mostly in the US? how do we get the free invite?

    • http://loyaltylobby.com/ John O.

      You can click on the link to the article I wrote last week. The link from there takes you to a page that gives you a complimentary access.

    • http://loyaltylobby.com/ John O.

      Sorry, I missed the first part. Normally the best deals for the “opaque” hotels are in the states but you can sometimes score a deal in Europe as well. Asia is more difficult. Have a look and tell us!

  • Lively

    Great post. Thanks!

  • Ivan

    Priceline seems like such a lottery to me… is it really easy to figure out what you are bidding on? Plus there is no guarantee as far as number of beds is concerned…. ok beds are not guaranteed with lmtclub always, I suppose, but you can at least always email the hotel beforehand and ask what “standard” is. Also with lmtclub you can actually cancel without penalties… as far as I’m aware, with priceline, you will be stuck with your choice,

    • Ivan

      I did notice that you can get significantly better deals with European hotes through priceline… but again, is it always a guarantee you’ll score something nice?

      • http://loyaltylobby.com/ John O.

        I think that as long as you don’t go lower than 4*’s on Priceline you are safe.There is an occasional dud on the lower categories.

        BTW I have thrown away couple of Priceline reservations over the years due to not getting an acceptable hotel. It is ok considering how much money I have saved using the service.

    • http://loyaltylobby.com/ John O.

      If you do your bidding research right on BetterBidding and BiddingForTravel, I have had very good success of getting a hotel that I would prefer.

      • Ivan

        Well, that’s true if you can tell what hotels have recently been won in the area that you want. If not, then you won’t really know which one it is… You will get a 4 star, but in a huge city like Paris, that might not mean much considering the number of hotels. So I guess as long as you are happy with whatever 4 star you are getting, then that’s fine. The reason I still like Hotwire and LMTclub better in some cases is that a lot of the time you can determine the hotel exactly and figure out what the rooms/beds are like. priceline does have some great deals (better than both lmt and hotwire), but I usually start my search with lmtclub, then check if something better has recently been won using priceline.

  • Andy F.

    Hi John, one quick question: do you pay LMTC or pay the hotel directly when check in? Thanks!

    • http://loyaltylobby.com/ John O.

      Prepaid to LMTC.

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  • Ron D.

    Got the free membership and then I got A King Suite @ Hard Rock Hotel HRH All Suite Towers in Vegas-Feb 10-13 for $25.00 a night. That’s a Helluva deal. AWW Yeah! Those rooms avg $200 a night most of the time. Booked my friend and his wife in A Petite King Suite for $17.00 a night. So, yeah, there are deals to be had. PS These rooms were listed not Mystery or Secret Deal rooms.

    • http://loyaltylobby.com/ John O.

      That is unbelievable!